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Does it matter if students burn effigies?

Quite simply, get over it people! There's nothing to see here!

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Yet the story of how the St Andrews University Conservative and Union Society burned an effigy of President Obama on a beach in town last weekend has been broadcast in America, while domestic radio news bulletins and the printed press have also featured it.

I don't support any particular political party and neither am I racist. Yes, the Conservative and Union Society have been mean and uncouth for piling Obama on the fire as they have done with Gordon Brown and other political figures in the past.

But burning effigies has been going on for ages. It is a means, albeit an extreme and flamboyant means, of expressing opinion. We're only a few weeks after Guy Fawkes night after all. It is also a pastime carried out by societies from a wide range of political beliefs in St Andrews.

So, what are the papers and the public really condemning? Is it the fact that it was Obama on the fire, or was it the fact that these are right-wing students who conveniently fulfil the posh hoo-ha Henry image of the typical St Andrews student?

Where were the press last year when Gordon Brown came to visit and a bunch of left-wing students protested, with one student being fined £500 by the university court for dangerous behaviour? Oh wait a minute, that didn't fit the agenda of highlighting and mocking the typical St Andrews image. The student in question then wasn't wearing chinos and deck shoes.

Come on, be honest. Would you pay attention to this story if Heriot Watt students had done the same thing? Don't we just love to indulge in stories of the well-heeled gentry doing naughty things, and caught with their tweed jackets a little singed or soiled?

The fact is that, since I chose to study in St Andrews, I have heard no end of comments about its "posh" university status, with its typical southern counties student populatio. And if anyone else mentions Prince William again, then I might have to restrain myself from fisticuffs.

Yes, it is true that St Andrews has a large population of students from wealthy backgrounds.

It is reported that among last year's 1,625 first year entrants, 58% lived and studied without the need for a student loan. Does that surprise you? Hello?! This university is almost actively encouraging the Henrys and Catherines of the upper echelons by planning to charge £36,000 for a degree!

I'm not saying that what these Conservative students did wasn't a stupid thing, but that's what students do! We experiment with boundaries, push them or recoil from them until we can call ourselves a grown-up. It's that old saying of having to learn from our mistakes.

I have my equal share of things I wished I had never done at university but I am glad I did them all the same, because it was an experience to learn from. Thankfully I now know, for example, that I should never do a late night show on radio because it ends up going into areas that are simply too taboo.

As for it being a racist issue, I think that's doing a disservice to President Obama. Is it too daring to suggest a political society disagree with his politics and don't think anything of his skin colour? He is the President of America who happens to be of mixed race. There is a political concern here, not a racial one.

So if you want to call this university posh, exclusive, pompous, ridiculous and full of [insert rude and derogatory word here] then fine, go ahead because that's your opinion and everyone should have a right to express their opinions in whatever form.

But don't bring Obama into it, say it outright.

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